Buster Williams – ‘Vibrations’
taken from Crystal Reflections (Muse, 1976)
Given that I’m now approaching the one year mark in the blogging game, I’ve been feeling a little reflective of late. Although I feel I’ve covered the majority of my favourite artists during this period, there have of course been others who have slipped through the net one way or another. One such artist is the late Big L, who to my mind was undoubtedly one of the most naturally gifted MCs to emerge from the New York scene during the dying phases of the golden era. Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous ranks as one of my favourite albums from the DITC camp, an unforgiving portrayal of ghetto existence whose success relied on both exceptional production work and L’s inimitable attitude and swagger. Of course, the album is not exactly one for the faint of heart, but it executed that gritty mid-’90s sound as well as any other album from the era, and twelve years on its status as classic material remains fittingly intact.
Today’s beat deconstruction focuses on the album opener ‘Put It On’, a Buckwild produced number that served as the perfect introduction to the album as a whole. Although the adage ‘they just don’t make ‘em like they used to’ is perhaps somewhat played out when referring to a genre which seems caught in a constant state of reminiscence, it rarely feels as applicable: ‘Put It On’ embodies a bangin’ simplicity that will sadly never be seen again within the genre.
Buckwild finds his inspiration in Buster Williams’ ‘Vibrations’ track taken from his 1976 release Crystal Reflections, a smooth jazz/funk cover of a Roy Ayers cut that features a vibes track as its central melodic focus. Although the opening section of the song will seem immediately familiar, it is in fact the octave jump that leads into the section at the 0.31 mark that forms the backbone of ‘Put It On’. The sample contains a multitude of components: vibes, Williams’ deftly executed doubles bass, rim hits, synth strings and a subtle Fender Rhodes track, although in reality it is only the vibes, strings and bass that feature prominently in Buckwild’s beat. Naturally, the drums hit hard, and despite an extremely simple kick pattern they provide the song with a tremendous sense of momentum. Indeed, I find it almost impossible to understand how anybody could listen to this song with their head still: this is boom bap at its absolute finest.
When paired up with the Kid Capri chorus shouts and Big L’s rapid fire braggin’ verses, the track succeeds in taking itself up yet another notch. There is something particularly cohesive about the feel of ‘Put It On’ as whole; the track is a perfectly balanced mesh of beats and rhymes that is truly infectious. Grab your neck brace and indulge yourself people: things really will never be the same again.